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How to write a book review on Amazon

Even if you wrote book reviews back in school that earned you an A, writing a review for Amazon may be a new experience for you.

The purpose of a school book report is to prove that you have read the book and to write it with well-developed paragraphs and perfect spelling and punctuation.

The purpose of an Amazon review is to guide others in their purchasing decision.

An Amazon review should be honest and helpful. Five-star reviews are, of course, the most helpful in encouraging others to buy the book. But it’s not enough to award all those stars; a book review should have a headline that summarizes your buyer recommendation and that demonstrates you have actually read the book. (In this way it’s like a school report.)

What to do if you think the book stinks?

You are free to do whatever you want. You can give as few stars as you wish. However, I believe that someone writing a one-star review has special responsibilities. Many of us are more likely to read the poor reviews than the ones with high praise, in part because there are generally so few poor reviews are posted. A review for a low-rated book should explain your reasoning since the reason you dislike the book may be the very same reason someone else would buy it.

Some people prefer short books they can read quickly, others prefer long ones they can immerse themselves in for the summer. Some of us like lots of facts, others favor case studies or examples. And so it goes. A negative review should give enough justification to help readers make the right decision for themselves.

Others who dislike a book decide not to review it if they can’t say much of anything that is positive, especially if the author is a friend or relative. This decision is up to you.

Amazon has published review guidelines that are rather thorough and informative. Highlights include:

  • Written reviews must be at least 20 words and cannot exceed 5,000 words. (That’s a heck of a lot of words for a book review!)

  • Video reviews can run as long as 10 minutes, but 2 to 5 minute reviews are better.

  • If you received the book free of charge, you should disclose that fact in the review.

One other suggestion that is mine alone and that you may reject: If an aspect of the book is openly revealed in the book description, that in itself should not be justification for a one- or two-star rating.

Example: My own book, Real Skills, Real Income: A Proven Marketing System to Land Well-Paid Freelance and Consulting Work in 30 Days or Less, recommends targeted phoning to get clients and this is clearly indicated in the book description.

Some people call this “cold calling” (though I reject this term) and would never consider doing it. Since phoning is advised in the book’s Amazon description, I personally believe that while you may state your opinion of this technique in your review, it should not be grounds in itself for one star. To me, that’s like downgrading a romance novel because you dislike romance novels. Why grade them if you don’t like them? But this is just my opinion . . .

Originally posted 3-25-14

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